What I’m reading: spiritual memoirs and historical fiction

twitterature October 2014

This month’s twitterature post is sponsored by HarperCollins Christian Publishing.  

Welcome to twitterature, where we share short and sweet reviews of what we’ve been reading lately on the 15th of every month.

I’ve been consciously choosing to read something other than Outlander this month (or this would be a very boring installment of twitterature). I’ve been breaking up my binge reading with modern fiction and spiritual memoirs—because hey, why not?


by Jennifer Fulwiler

something other than GodI love Jen’s blog, and enjoyed finally reading the book I’d heard so much about over there. (Important: this is not regurgitated blog content!) Jen is well-spoken, insightful, and really, really funny, and this memoir treats the heavy and the light with wit and grace. If you love a good conversion story, don’t miss this one.


by Diana Gabaldon

VoyagerThis is the 3rd book of the Outlander series, and it’s impossible to say much of anything about it without dishing spoilers left and right. Just know that I am very much still enjoying this series.


by Gillian Marchenko

sun shine downAfter meeting Gillian in person last week, I bumped her slim memoir to the top of my list. Marchenko and her husband were living in Ukraine when she gave birth to baby #3; to their surprise, she had Downs Syndrome. This is her story of coming to terms with their family’s new life. Gripping story, excellent writing. Marchenko has a second book in the works about depression, faith, and motherhood, and I’m looking forward to reading it when it comes out.


by Sarah Ladd

the lady at willowgrove hallA new release: this just hit the shelves October 7. Ladd’s third Regency romance tells a sweet story, and she does a good job impressing the era’s moral code—and its implications—on her readers. This was easy-reading chick lit; I polished it off in two days. Try as I might, I cannot convince my daughters that the woman on the cover isn’t Emma.


by Carolyn Weber

Holy is the dayI absolutely loved the excerpt Carolyn read from this at the Festival of Faith and Writing, and I ordered the book soon after. I liked the flow of this one better than her conversion story Surprised by Oxford, but I’m wondering if that’s because her second book is better written (as second books usually are), or because now that I’ve met her in person I can hear Caro reading the book in her own voice. Best read a few pages at a time.

What have you been reading lately?


Leave A Comment
  1. Steph says:

    Gillian and I attended the same church growing up and went to the same college (not at the same time as she’s a bit older). I love her honesty (especially because she’s a pastor’s wife) and her blog and can’t wait for her next book to come out!

  2. Arenda says:

    Haha, I can totally see what your kids mean about ‘Emma’! 🙂
    And “Something other than God” seems like a kinda odd title for a conversion story, hey? Interesting mishmash of books this month!

    • Katie Mc. says:

      It makes sense in context – she took the title from a quote by C.S. Lewis:

      “What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

    • Anne says:

      Of course it did. Hope your gestational incarceration is going reasonably well. (I snickered at your “all rest and no sleep” comment because it’s so perfectly, horribly true.)

  3. Anne says:

    I agree on Jennifer Fulwiler’s book: it is definitely not just her blog in a book. I thought she did a fine job with her memoir! I’ll bet her audio version would be a good listen, too. You are making me more and more curious about this Outlander series!! (Which I don’t think I would’ve reached for otherwise??) Also, are Wendell Berry’s books quite well-known in Kentucky? I wonder if they are….what’s the right phrase….well, beloved in that they depict rural Kentucky? Kind of like Carl Sandburg is known in Illinois for his poetry. I guess I am wondering what your fellow inhabitants think of him! I enjoyed my first of his books. Thanks for the Twitterature fun!!

    • Anne says:

      Sadly, I don’t think Berry gets much special love here in his home state, at least not the widespread variety. But that’s not because I’m not doing my part, I assure you. 🙂

  4. Tim says:

    I received an advance copy of Karen Swallow Prior’s biography of Hannah More (18th-19th C. writer and abolitionist) and am impressed so far. I’ll have a review up close to its release date, which was just moved up to October 28. There will be another post on it as well that compares her experiences with those of various Jane Austen characters. Austen and More were contemporaries, More being older by 30 years and outlived Austen too, but I don’t know that they ever met.

  5. Victoria says:

    I had no idea about that book by Carolyn Weber!!! I LOVED Surprised By Oxford. It’s one of my favorite books that I’ve ever read. 🙂 I’ll definitely being adding Holy Is the Day to my list!

  6. I am so on the fence about Outlander. Even my mother is recommending it now. I read the first book when it originally came out and decided it wasn’t for me. That was an awfully long time ago, and a different stage in my life and reading. It may merit another look.

    Mom said to stick with it until the middle of book two before I decide. At what point were you hooked?

    • Anne says:

      Well, I loved the introduction she wrote to the 20th anniversary edition, and that made me want to see book 1 through before I even started, really. And then I just *had* to know what happened next …

      • Bethany says:

        I hope you don’t mind me asking for some guidance but Outlander was more “steamy” than what I usually read and I’m trying to decide whether I want to continue the series or not. Can I expect the same level of that subject matter in the next books or does it escalate or taper off? I tend to be a little old fashioned.

        • Anne says:

          You’re in good company on this—many, many readers comment that they could do without the steamy bits. Book 2 is much like book 1, as I recall (it definitely does NOT escalate, but I don’t think it lessens much in book 2), but it does back off in the subsequent books.

  7. Kayris says:

    I just read The Red Tent and loved it, so I picked up two more of Anita Diamant’s books. “Day After Night” was amazing.

    I also like Linda Castillo’s Amish mysteries, and just read her sixth in the Kate Burkholder series. Warning, not for the faint of heart or the squeamish.

    And “Five Days Left,” by Julie Lawson Timmer, which was a tearjerker.

  8. Dana says:

    I am still on the fence about Outlander as well. A longtime friend, ( she is also my hairdresser), whose reading taste usually matches up with mine, has recommended them over and over. I have picked up the first book several times and tried to read it and just cannot get into it at all.
    Not sure why. It would be nice if I could like them I love starting a series that already has many books in it…and I love thick books! Right now I am working my way through rereading The Harry Potter series and will then read a couple of the John Granger commentaries. Just completed Book 4. I am also reading The Bully Pulpit by Doris Kearns Goodwin about Teddy Roosevelt and William Howard Taft ( thick and really interesting), Mere Christianity By C.S. Lewis and The Artisan Soul by Erwin Raphael McManus, which needs to be read slowly and thoughtfully. I already know I will be re-reading it.

  9. Laura says:

    I am reading All Over But the Shoutin by Rick Bragg and really love it. Great writing and a fantastic memoir. Recently finished Behind the Beautiful Forevers, which is about a Mumbai slum (powerful look at the lives of so many people but knowing that places like that exist just about ruined me).

  10. Leigh Kramer says:

    Anne, we need to start incorporating Outlander discussions into our Voxer conversations. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the series! Also glad you enjoyed Holy is the Day. I can’t wait to see what Caro writes next!

  11. Sherri says:

    I loved and devoured the first 4 Outlander books, but my love waned and I didn’t even think about reading the most recent one. I felt that the books needed substantial editing and I stopped caring about certain characters, although not Jamie and Clare. Gabaldon is a great story teller but I thought the story became a smaller part of each book.

    Two historical mystery series that I’ve been enjoying this fall are by Rory Clements (Elizabethan England, the first one is Martyr) and Albert A. Bell, Jr. (Imperial Rome, the most recent is The Eyes of Aurora.) They’re beautifully written.

    • Anne says:

      I thought the writing in book 4 sagged a bit, but enjoyed book 5. (Just finished it an hour ago. 🙂 ) Curious to see what happens next…

      Thanks for the historical fiction recommendations!

      • Amy says:

        Number 4 was definitely my least favourite out of all the Outlander books yet! I’m currently doing a series re-read before I pick up Written in My Own Heart’s Blood… I just finished Dragonfly in Amber. I think that the series is actually better the second time around! There are so many details- it’s astounding how Gabaldon kept everything straight! Love love love it!

  12. Amy says:

    Earlier this month I read Curious: The Desire to Know and Why Your Future Depends on It by Ian Leslie. It has really stayed with me in a way that not many books have done. This week I was finally able to “process through it” into blogging it. (More than a “tweet length review for sure – so I won’t link it this month.) Have you read it or heard about it yet? It seems like one that might make it to your reading list.

  13. Virginia says:

    Something Other Than God is probably one of the best books I’ve read. And it’s not just because I big puffy heart Fulwiler and her blog (cause I do!!!!), but because it was so wonderfully written. I read it and then had my husband read it and he liked it just as much (and he’s a picky reader), but it really spoke to him as well. Of course, we’re both new converts to the Church since this past Easter and we’ve both been reading her blog throughout our faith journey, but it’s just such a great, great book.

  14. Flynn says:

    Have you read Gilead by Marilynne Robinson? It’s one of my favorites and has the most beautiful writing I’ve ever come across. Just picked up her new book Lila and it’s equally gorgeous writing.

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